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NEWS: Awards recognize volunteers (Jan. 2023)

January 24th, 2023 · No Comments

MPP Bell lauds community achievers in University-Rosedale

Personal support workers from the St George Care Community worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to ensure quality care for each of their residents. These PSWs were some of the real heroes during the COVID-19 pandemic and stand beside MPP Jessica Bell (at right). COURTESY MPP JESSICA BELL’S OFFICE

By Fox Oliver

Cecil Community Centre hosted nearly 80 guests on Nov. 22 to honour  community advocates who make the University-Rosedale riding a better place to live. MPP Jessica Bell (University-Rosedale) lead the award dinner for the first time since 2019 alongside Norm Di Pasquale, an outgoing TCDSB trustee, and offered awards to many individuals and groups including a movie planner, a lawyer, and a cycling advocate. 

Emily Reid, founder of the Toronto Outdoor Picture Show (TOPS), was one of the winners. Reid founded TOPS 12 years ago with the goal of creating “a unique experience within the city to appreciate cinema.” TOPS’s most well-known program is the Christie Pits Film Festival, an event where movies are screened on a large outdoor screen in the park. This event has seen attendance of up to 2000 people in a single night.

In response to receiving the award, Reid said she was “truly honoured and touched to be included with other important members of the community, such as health care and cycling  safety workers.” Operating a charitable organization that runs only through grants and pay-what-you-can donations can be a difficult task, she said, but receiving this award was “refreshing,” and has motivated her to keep doing what she’s been doing for the enjoyment of those around her.

The health care workers from the St. George Care Community (225 St. George St.) were recognized for being COVID-19 heroes. The Avenue Road Food Bank was recognized for community leadership. Their mission isn’t just about “helping with food, but helping people get a leg up to feed themselves.”

The Kensington Market Community Land Trust was recognized for housing advocacy. The Chinatown Business Improvement Area was recognized for community leadership, including their work to keep small businesses alive during the pandemic by installing surveillance cameras for community safety. Helen Lee was awarded for being a seniors’ advocate, and the Palmerston Green Committee and its members for being environmental advocates. Samantha Van Clieaf advocated for safe streets, and Ada Chan for legal justice. The Toronto Community for Better Child Care was recognized for being an education advocate and community members were thanked for their work that is “essential in achieving $10 per day child care.” Cycle Toronto was recognized for being an advocate for safe streets, and Liz Zuz for newcomer inclusion.

The last attendee to receive an award was Sally McLean. She gave some simple advice from her time spent volunteering while in retirement: “Pick a place you wish to spend time and work there.” With these words of wisdom, she has enjoyed working in her community at the organization Sistering. Her work proves there is no age limit to helping those in need.

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